Friday, February 1, 2013

Self Sufficiency, Resource Based Living and Zeitgeist



Let me first state this is not my usual topic and I'm not a conspiracy nut. We recently watched the Zeitgeist Addendum movie on Netflix. Mostly it prompted me to think of our lifestyle in the terms the movie discusses, Monetary based economies and Resource based economies. Truthfully, Zeitgeist Addendum does contain a lot of conspiracy based theory and is mostly about bashing the worlds existing Monetary system. I was not completely enthralled with it but I watched and listened with an open and questioning mind. I came to the determination that some of it made some sense.

Zeitgeist Addendum in general summation proposes we move away from a monetary based society and into a resource based society. We should all know and at least sort of understand a monetary based society as it is what we have now. What is a resource based society though, I didn't know. As far as I can tell all the examples of a resource based society are futuristic with none currently in operation. A utopian ideal of living in harmony with nature while utilizing technology to its fullest potential. The best and most well-known example of this in my opinion is Star Trek. I personally have also thought to look to history and believe that many native cultures were resource based societies. In particular I look to Native Americans as living this way.

The basic definition of a resource according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary is
1a : a source of supply or support : an available means —usually used in plural
  b : a natural source of wealth or revenue —often used in plural
  c : a natural feature or phenomenon that enhances the quality of human life
  d : computable wealth —usually used in plural
  e : a source of information or expertise

So I looked at our life in terms of each individual system.  First the monetary system. Our monetary resources are currently limited and we have debt just as the movie states. Contrary to the movie I do not believe this condition is fixed, permanent, or in any way guaranteed to be unchanging or worsening. We do not do great but we are functioning ok in this system as it currently stands. Ok being tiny income and low debt by comparison to others. The monetary based economy seems to thrive on comparison.

I had never contemplated our situation in terms of our resources. Why? We still live in a monetary based economy and society so it is how we most easily relate to the world but in many ways we are already living a resource based life. I found when I contemplated living from a resource based view point that we are wealthy in ways I had not expected; For instance in a monetary system my house would be of value only in terms of its potential resale value or equity but in a resource based system my home has value in just being shelter for myself, it has additional value in being able to shelter others in return for services or monetary gain, it provides my garden which allows us to provide food for ourselves and others, and it is my hope that in the future it will help to provide us with the energy it uses.

 I came to the conclusion that our self sufficiency lifestyle places us somewhere in the midst of both these systems. In fact they are symbiotic...without one the other would not exist in our lives and without both we wouldn't have the things we do. We have a home. It can be made energy efficient or even go completely off grid and be energy independent. We have 1/2 an acre of land. That land can produce food and medicine from a garden and fruit bearing plants. It can support chickens, rabbits, and goats. We have access to technology that enables us to expand and learn things we would have never known existed. We are learning new things all the time. In fact it is my personal goal to learn one new skill every month in 2013. That same technology gives us access to others who have knowledge to share and similar ideals. It offers social relationships with folks we could not have met any other way. Our knowledge and skills can provide us with a means of enjoyment, self-improvement and possibly even trade.

If you are like me, you sometimes feel so out of place in this world you just don't fit. In some ways I am the square peg that doesn't go in the round hole. I prefer my quieter, slower small town life. I prefer to shop at the thrift store rather than the big box store. I prefer to buy local rather than half a world away.  I'm slow to jump on the latest and greatest trends and products. Does this mean I don't value technology or world trade--heck no--in fact I recently bought some lovely crochet thread that’s made in Brazil on Amazon and I plan to buy more. It does however mean I often view the world more from a resource based perspective than a monetary one. This makes me different from the majority. However, I am no longer quite so backwards because I'm interested in making my own stuff, recycling, organics, growing my own food and using energy wisely. It seems it has recently become a popular ride at the carnival of life.

Earning your "living" or place in society will not end. It is one of the hardest things to do in a rural environment. Especially one that is based mostly in a monetary system. Yet it is possible to have a sustainable livelihood in a rural area without commuting or working from home (via technology) in a resource based system where everyone contributes and receives the necessities in return. Contrary to what the movie suggests I believe that people will always have to trade something...whether it is a skill, a product, labor, technology or some other not yet recognized form that is given value...for something else whether its beads and trinkets, modern currency, energy credits, or replicator rations in order to exist as a society.  Food does not come from nowhere and technology changes or requires maintenance and repair so there is and likely always will be "work" to be done. Even on Star Trek they all had a job to do. While I cannot deny the necessity of having a monetary income I have begun to learn to value our resource based "assets". Looking at the economy this way has helped me see my family and our position in terms of all our worth rather than merely seeing worth through our monetary value and capabilities and from this perspective it is easy to see we can contribute to our local community in so many more ways than I ever thought possible.

The contemplation of these two economic systems and our life style will no doubt continue to lead me to reevaluate a great many things. There was one pivotal moment after thinking about all this for a couple days when I realized that we are actually living and operating in both systems simultaneously at this moment in time. It was strange to fully realize that we are in the beginnings of a transition. A transition deeper reflection tells me has occurred before as we moved from a resource based society into one based on monetary systems. I believe things are slowly changing and swinging back the other way; perhaps we are the beginning of that new way and a part of that change. We are living part way between the monetary and the resource based ideals, part way between the traditional and the technological, part way between the old and the new, between the death of one way and the birth of another. There is no way at the present time that I know of to jump entirely into a resource based society without some catastrophic failures in both systems but we can certainly grow into one.

Sources and sites
A Google search on Zeitgeist and resource based living will lead you to many, many hours of links with everything from debates to conspiracy theorists making accusations on all sides. It is worth the investigation if you do it with an open mind, skip over the junk, and confirm your own facts. Just to get you started here are some links.

Resources for resource based living

Technocracy resources

Linking resource based living and technocracy together

And finally a skeptics opinion on zeitgeist

Wifeofaprepper

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.


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